YMCA worker accused of rape

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98,500 children were sexually abused in the US in 1999, the last year for which data is available. As many camp professionals know, abuse, sexual and otherwise, occurs nearly everywhere. Yet, there is a natural inclination to believe abuse won’t happen in our own communities, not to mention our own camp. Awareness of the threat is key, and reinforcing proven abuse prevention strategies is an essential element in protecting the kids in our programs. Both are the goals for our “Abuse Alert” program. Each is a brief treatment of the topic, focussing on one real, recent, public event…reprinting the article about the event in its entirety (omitting names and identifying references to the YMCA) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff. As always, if you need additional guidance on this topic, please call us at (800) 463 8546.


“YMCA worker accused of rape”

MAJOR MIDWESTERN CITY: 03/16/2002 - A 48-year-old YMCA aquatic coordinator appeared Friday in [city] Municipal Court on charges of rape of a person under 13 and gross sexual imposition.

[Alleged perpetrator] of [address] was held in the [name] County jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Police said [alleged perpetrator] fondled and had sexual contact with a girl, now 11, during swimming lessons at the [name] YMCA, [address], in February and March 2001. Police said he exposed himself to the child and performed sex acts on her.

[Alleged perpetrator], a YMCA employee for about three years, was arrested at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the [name] Building, police said.

The girl’s mother called police Monday night after her daughter told her about the sexual contact, police said. The mother learned of the act Sunday after her daughter asked her mother if she should talk to a psychiatrist.

[Alleged perpetrator] gave the girl several swimming lessons last year during the YMCA's normal operating hours, police said.

The child told police she didn't come forward sooner because she feared for her safety. Police said [alleged perpetrator] asked her to keep the sexual contact a secret.

The girl’s mother said her daughter’s behavior has changed dramatically during the past months. The girl began to dress like a boy, police said.


What is clear:

  • a YMCA staff member has been charged with a serious crime allegedly committed at the Y. Swimming lessons by their nature involve touching, and thus pose potential for abuse; charges as serious as this one raise several questions regarding supervision, etc.
  • fear of reprisal delayed reporting of the behavior. A textbook response… the events came to light not through an immediate divulgement but over a year after the fact through an oblique question about counseling
  • the behavior allegedly was not an isolated instance but a repeated occurrence. Typical grooming behavior… without (apparent) outward complaint a perpetrator will continue to the next step of conquest
  • the alleged perpetrator allegedly asked the victim to keep the sexual contact a secret. Again, typical grooming behavior… keeping of secrets, especially from other adults and parents

What a camp should do to prevent such a situation:

  • Utilize “Codes of Conduct” for coaches and instructors, for program participants, and for parents
    • clearly define all behavioral expectations for each group; these should include the expectation to report questionable or inappropriate behavior; it is good for all parties to know what is expected not only of themselves, but of the other parties as well
    • clearly explain and consistently enforce the repercussions for behavior outside of stated parameters;
    • obtain a signed commitment to follow the appropriate Code of Conduct from all involved
  • Openly discus appropriate and inappropriate touching with program participants and parents
    • clearly define the issue and terms in language understandable to the specific age group
    • encourage the children to report inappropriate touching or behavior that makes them uncomfortable, but remind them that touching of body parts not normally covered by a bathing suit may be necessary in the process of teaching them to swim
  • Provide a feedback system to ask questions or report questionable or inappropriate behavior
    • there should be both a male and a female contact to whom the children or parents can report behavior or ask questions
    • these contacts must be someone other than the immediate instructors or counselors
  • If private lessons are allowed, employ even greater vigilance regarding instructional methods and teacher-student relationships and emphasize parental orientation and feedback
  • Remind parents that abusers are normally caught breaking rules, not actually abusing kids

What a camp should do if it faces such a situation:

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about camp risk management issues.

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